Gregory Wrubell | Posted: 24 Apr 2016 | Updated: 8 Nov 2020

Cougars open Italian playing tour: Day one report

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A four-match, 10-day playing tour of Italy is underway for the BYU women’s soccer team.

The Cougars’ journey began early Saturday with a flight from Salt Lake City to New York City; an overnight leg then took the team into Milan-Malpensa International Airport. Upon their Sunday morning arrival, 21 players, coaches and support staff battled jet lag as they headed directly to the city center for a day of sightseeing. 

“It took a long time,” head coach Jennifer Rockwood said of the overseas trip. “We got here a little delirious, but excited.”

“When you stay up (all night) and then you get here, you just keep going. It will be interesting to see if the girls remember much of what happened (on Sunday).”

There was a lot to remember, beginning with a stroll through Milan’s famed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping complexes, completed in 1877. The walk beneath the soaring, domed glass tunnel led directly to the Piazza del Duomo, of which the massive Duomo di Milano serves as centerpiece.

Begun in 1386, the Duomo took more than 400 years to complete; it stands as the second-largest cathedral in Italy, and third-largest in all of Europe. Individual and guided tours gave the team a comprehensive look at one of the most impressive structures in this tradition-rich country.

Free time in the central district was followed by an afternoon tour that included stops at the venerable Teatro alla Scala opera house and the Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, home to Leonardo da Vinci’s legendary mural of “The Last Supper.”

“Seeing what we saw today was a really awesome opportunity,” said Rockwood of her squad’s Sunday activities, which concluded with a dinner for players, staffers and family members at the team hotel in Stresa, on the shores of scenic Lake Maggiore. The Cougars will stay in Stresa until Tuesday, when the BYU tour then moves eastward to Padova and Venice.

“I think it’s nice being here at the lake,” Rockwood said Sunday night. “It’s a beautiful town, and now we get some free time to kind of relax and get back on our feet again so we’ll be ready to go (on Monday).”

“We came over here to experience the culture and see all of the historical sights, but play a little soccer on top of it.”

BYU’s four-match schedule kicks off on Monday at noon MDT (8:00 pm in Italy) against women’s Serie B side Bocconi Milano. Additional games will follow in Venice, Napoli, and Rome. 

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PLAYERS’ PERSPECTIVE

Sophomore midfielder Madie Siddoway:

Today was the beginning of a long-awaited adventure for our BYU soccer team! We landed in Milan, Italy to the sight of a beautiful, green Sunday morning. After visiting an amazing cathedral we were able to spend time walking through Italian shops. We ate some delicious Italian pizza at a classic little cafe. Many of us also enjoyed a gelato (or maybe even two!).

A great opportunity that we had this afternoon was visiting the painting of “The Last Supper.” After learning about this famous piece of art in Humanities class it was a phenomenal experience to see it in person. A tour guide was able to speak to our team about the history of the painting and the significance of Christ’s individual disciples as represented. One thing I learned about the painting that I hadn't previously realized is that Judas is in the painting and one of the disciples closes to Christ. The famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci, truly made the Christ's last supper come to life for all of us. Many members of our team also enjoyed seeing the painting and relating it to descriptions and events in the book “The Da Vinci Code."

Senior defender Taylor Campbell Isom:

The first day in Italy was very eventful! After a long flight, everyone was pretty anxious to be a part of the Italian culture and see what it was all about. We met our tour guide Flavio and our bus driver, Guiseppe, who drove us to downtown Milan. Everyone rushed to explore. My husband Andy and I went to the ATM to withdraw Euros, and you will never believe what happened: the ATM machine ate our debit card. The machine took our card and did not give it back. I was panicked; it’s the first day and now we have no money. Luckily, Andy made a few calls to our bank to cancel the card. I guess Italy wanted a souvenir from the United States.

As a team, we had the opportunity to go to the third-largest cathedral in Europe, the Duomo di Milano. It was phenomenal. A few girls walked to the top of the observation terrace, where they saw the entire city of Milan and the Italian Alps in the distance. Since it was Sunday, we were actually in the cathedral during a church service.

We enjoyed all of the sights that we visited, but the second we sat down on the bus, everyone fell immediately asleep—adjusting to a new time zone is hard. Jen (Coach Rockwood) had a good time taking pictures of everyone sleeping. Today, we walked roughly 11,900 steps. All of us are very eager to shower and get a good night’s sleep.

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Continue to check the BYUCougars.com women’s soccer page for tour updates, and follow the soccer team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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